Prague (dpa) – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz wants to strengthen the European Union through far-reaching reforms and prepare it for enlargement. In his opening speech on Monday at Charles University in Prague, the SPD politician pleaded for simpler decision-making processes, a crisis-proof asylum system and closer cooperation in the areas of armament and defence. Specifically, Scholz announced plans to establish a new air defense system with European neighbors.
“We need to bring the weight of a united Europe to bear much more strongly,” said the Chancellor during his one-day visit to the Czech Republic, which currently holds the EU Council Presidency. “Together we have the best chance of helping to shape the 21st century in our interests, that is to say in those of Europe.”
Scholz’s speech at the Karolinum, the historic main building of Charles University founded in 1348, was the first time he took a comprehensive stance on European politics. The Chancellor underlined that the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine had brought the EU closer. “When, if not now, are we going to create a sovereign Europe that can hold its own in a multipolar world? When, if not now, will we overcome the differences that have paralyzed and divided us for years?
Scholz argued for closer defense cooperation, arguing that a common air defense system would be cheaper and more effective than national solutions. He named the Netherlands, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the Baltic and Scandinavian countries as possible partners in this context. Scholz also called for an independent council of EU defense ministers.